Darren Burke earlier encouraged the mother of two to terminate the pregnancy and sent her links to an abortion clinic after she fell pregnant during the course of their five-year affair
Image: Humphrey Nemar)
to senior civil servant has been remanded in custody after he was found guilty of spiking his pregnant mistress’s orange juice with abortion drugs in a bid to cause a miscarriage.
The court heard of how married father-of-one darren burke 43, a former deputy director for the emergency services mbile communications program at the Home Office, crushed up an abortion pill and put it in Laura Slade’s glass at her flat.
He earlier encouraged the mother-of-two to terminate the pregnancy and sent her links to an abortion clinic after she fell pregnant during the course of their five-year affair.
She refused to drink the glass of orange juice, which was laced with mifepristone, a medication used to induce an abortion, on December 4, 2020.
But sadly Ms Slade suffered an unconnected miscarriage weeks later.
Burke, from Windsor, Berkshire, claimed he had crushed up the abortion tablets after buying them online.
He also claimed he flushed them down the sink when it became clear Ms Slade was determined to keep the baby.
Burke denied obtaining the drug with intent and attempting to administer it to procure a miscarriage.
A jury at Isleworth Crown Court found Burke, who was suspended from his job at the Home Office following his arrest, guilty of the second count on Tuesday.
Judge Alastair Hammerton discharged jurors from returning a verdict on the first count on Wednesday after they could not reach one.
Prosecutor Paul Jarvis said the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) was not seeking a retrial and the count was left to lie on file.
The judge reminded him in custody ahead of sentencing on June 16 after saying he faces a “sentence of immediate imprisonment of some length.”
Giving evidence from behind a screen, Ms Slade earlier told jurors she made it “very clear” that she did not want an abortion.
In a message to Burke, she said: “You’ve yelled at me, force(d) me to call an abortion clinic, told me how this will destroy your loved ones repetitively, you offered to hold my hand at the abortion clinic, you have crushed my heart.”
Ms Slade said she had “an instant gut feeling something was not right” when, on December 3, 2020, Burke offered to bring a Starbucks latte or tea the following morning to her two-bedroom flat in Chiswick, West London.
“He was very flustered, walking between the front room and the kitchen and was offering me a drink again,” she said.
The court heard Burke returned with two glasses – one which looked like orange juice and the other water – while he had a cup of tea or coffee.
Ms Slade said: “I just looked at it and looked at him and said: ‘Well I’m not drinking that. I’ve told you I’ve got morning sickness’.”
She said that once Burke had left, she found a white powder – later found to be mifepristone – inside the empty glass and called police to report her suspicions the following day.
Karen Sturman, from the CPS, said: “Darren Burke was living a double life and was desperate to abort his unborn child so that his wife and family did not find out about his secret relationship. His actions by him were premeditated and selfish.
“After unsuccessfully badgering the pregnant victim to agree to a termination, he cunningly and cruelly attempted to trick her into suffering a miscarriage by spiking a drink he had prepared for her. On the morning of the attempted poisoning, he even rather unusually offered to bring the victim a drink from Starbucks – an offer which she luckily declined.
“The prosecution case included forensic evidence and strong witness testimony from the brave victim who came to court and gave evidence against her former partner of five years.
“I hope this conviction goes some way in providing closure to the victim and gives other such victims the courage to come forward and report such crimes.’
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.